Client acquisition is one thing. Retaining those clients and growing your relationship and revenue is a totally different thing. The companies that do it really well are those proficient in client relationship management (CRM). The best ones also use a client relationship management tool for help.
When you invest in client relationship management, you’re not only adding longevity to the relationship. You’re also opening doors for the partnership to grow into other areas. You might get a bigger part of the project or add other domains to your relationship. Both these will help grow your revenue.
In this guide to client relationship management, we’ll define the concept, explain the benefits, and share seven proven best practices. But let’s first understand the concept.
What is client relationship management?
Client relationship management refers to all the steps and processes an organization takes to manage its interactions with existing, and new clients. Companies usually have a client relationship management tool to manage, monitor, and improve these relationships.
A viable client relationship management strategy would include a reliable tech-enabled system such as CRM software. It would also have specific goals that client-facing personnel have to achieve within given deadlines. These could include customer retention metrics, for example.
Finally, good client relationship management will have individuals dedicated to managing, nurturing, and growing relationships with their clients.
The advantages of client relationship management
Here are the four main benefits of client relationship management.
You’ll retain more clients
At the outset, with client relationship management, you’ll be able to retain more of your existing clients. This means there’s no need to repeatedly pitch for new clients. That will cost you both time and money. More importantly, as research has shown, by increasing client retention by 5%, you can increase your profitability from 25% to a whopping 95%!
You’ll better understand their requirements
As clients spend more time with your organization, you begin to better understand their unique needs and challenges. This helps you deliver customized solutions. You will develop relevant products and services and your client management personnel will be able to sell those to your clients faster.
You’ll gain expertise in the domain
A little-known benefit of client relationship management is the domain expertise you gain. When you’ve been handling a client from a particular sector for a long time, your teams and systems will develop unmatched knowledge about that domain. This makes it easier to not just attract clients from aligned sectors but also recruit superior talent.
You get positive word of mouth
When a client is happy with their relationship with you, more than likely, they will be ready to recommend you. This makes you more credible to potential clients. Do remember that clients have their own networks and any brand equity you can build there will help grow your company without you having to worry about lead generation.
7 best practices for client relationship management
These proven tactics will help you improve your client relationship management and your reputation as a reliable partner.
1. Know how your clients work
While acquiring a client, you would research the company, sector, and senior personnel, But it’s equally important to know how your clients actually work. The difference is that the former can be theoretical while the latter will offer practical help.
To know how your clients operate, go through their reports, social media posts, and media coverage of the firm. Whenever possible, talk to mutual connections who may know your client. You should also visit your clients and have one-on-one meetings to better understand their organizational culture and style of communication.
Knowing your clients means understanding the language and terminology they use. This will help you effectively craft relevant solutions and convincingly offer them. It’s also helpful to know where they’re currently focussing on.
2. Regularly check-in
Schedule regular check-ins with your client and ensure that it’s followed by all concerned personnel. These could be once a fortnight, once a week, or on a scheduled day of the month. If you happen to be in their neighborhood, it’s always a good idea to drop by for a quick meeting.
You should have a specific agenda for the meeting and communicate that to your client. During these check-ins, share project updates, current or potential roadblocks, or any concerns your team might have.
These check-ins, whether previously arranged or impromptu, serve a larger purpose. They will help you know your clients at a more casual and deeper level.
3. Get feedback
Timely feedback will reveal potential pain points and help you avoid problems down the line. Feedback is crucial during all stages of a client relationship, beginning with onboarding. Ask them whether they were satisfied with the process or whether they would like you to improve certain aspects.
When you deliver a project, request feedback both during the meeting and later through email. This allows them to give detailed responses. Also, request feedback from those you don’t directly interact with.
Boldly asking for feedback shows that you value their opinion and respect their input. This helps build sustainable long-term relationships. It also reduces the need for iterations in your deliverables.
4. Set expectations and always deliver
During the client acquisition and onboarding stages, it would be tempting to set unrealistic expectations. But this can be extremely counterproductive in client relationship management. You should have a clear understanding of your capabilities, resources, and the timelines you can commit to. Based on those, set realistic expectations from the start.
Communicate to the clients what your team can deliver within a specified deadline. Before you share those, it’s important to confer with your team members and get their input. Remember that some individuals may have workloads from other clients or have larger projects to deal with.
A client relationship management tool like Heycollab can help you manage team workload and effectively plan and organize your tasks and resource allocation. You can easily manage deadlines and assign visibility and access to team members. This helps you deliver your projects on time and win your client’s trust.
5. Build and share your expertise
Building and sharing expertise is one of the most effective ways to build profitable and longstanding relationships. That’s because clients want to partner with experts who know the subject and can offer customized solutions.
This goes beyond your knowledge of the client and their problems. What you need to offer is expertise in the domain. Develop a system where individuals and teams focus on sectors. Follow the media, industry news, and academic journals to find out where particular industries are headed and what technologies could become pivotal.
Write thought leadership pieces on social media and mainstream publications. Come up with reports, analyses, and studies on your chosen domains. Participate in industry forums and share your views. All these help you earn your client’s respect.
6. Communicate well
The innate talent of your team members alone won’t make a difference. The key to any strong relationship is communication. In the business world, companies that invest in communication skills and technology platforms will always have a considerable edge over their competitors. And this has to be a comprehensive and continuous focus.
All organizations should train their employees to communicate well across platforms. Effective written and spoken communication can help you convey your ideas, answer queries, and influence your clients to consider your recommended course of action.
An important thing to understand is that different forms such as email, presentations, direct meetings, video calls, and town halls require different etiquette and tactics for them to be effective. This is true for both internal and external communication. Be direct, informative, and friendly in your emails, and don’t make any typographical errors or unnecessary details.
In your presentations, come straight to the point and make them easy to read and comprehend. Don’t stuff slides with too many sentences, figures, or design elements. In direct meetings, reach on time, maintain eye contact, have a confident and open posture, and be in sync with the other person’s body language. All these will improve your business communication.
7. Be pro-active
Every client expects you to solve their problems and help them achieve their goals. The expertise with which you assist them will determine the longevity of your relationship and your revenue from it. But clients may not know their pain points or the larger objectives they can achieve.
Always see things from your client’s point of view and spot problems before they crop up. Share how these problems can become bigger challenges if they don’t solve them right now. Show how they can achieve bigger goals and grow their revenue.
When you come up with problems or opportunities, you should also present a solution or plan of action. This cements your authority and proficiency in the domain
These best practices, along with an advanced and intuitive client relationship management tool will help you build successful relationships with your clients.
Heycollab is a project management tool built for teams like yours. With a free 14-day trial you can try out all the cool features. To get started visit https://heycollab.com/